When Ghosts From the Past Appear…

Personal, Relationships

Last week my ex emailed me – the one I mentioned in this post. My relationship with this person and our subsequent breakup unearthed a range of mental health issues, new and old. It was an intense relationship considering I was dating my best friend at the time, and I spent the better part of a year rebounding from it while in therapy, and then almost a year and a half (up to now) being single so I could heal from it properly.

Eventually I did heal – well enough anyway considering how badly it had affected me. I’d taken responsibility for my actions (rather than assigning blame) and could see the good parts about the whole ordeal. Literally, the night before I received this email, I had been speaking to my housemate about exes getting in contact. I said something like, ‘I hope you don’t have to see me go through that. Of any of them I’d have trouble if (ex) got in contact, because I feel most positively about her now.’ I added, ‘but I wouldn’t contact her, unless I literally ran into her on the street. It’d be disruptive otherwise.’

(funnily enough three of my friends have been contacted by exes the same week. Something in the water?)

I’ve always known she might contact me deep down. It made opening my email inbox a bit nerve wracking. But hoped she wouldn’t because as I said, it’d be majorly disruptive. It’s been about two and a half years, longer than our friendship and relationship combined. I don’t know her anymore. I only know she’s seeing someone else from some ill advised stalking sometime last year, and I assume they’re still together.

She definitely doesn’t know what I’m like now. I’m sometimes still awkward and make a lot of puns (even more now) but I can’t deny the growth I’ve had since then. To go from daily panic attacks when we were together to doing workshops on mental health… I don’t think I’m doing too badly! (that’s what my next post will be about)

The exact contents of her email aren’t really that important. It was largely positive, albeit full of vague not-apologies for our last set of contact (again, years ago, and we’d done proper apologies back then!). She mentioned wanting me to have a good impression of her as she did me, and wanting to get some sort of closure on the whole thing.

She almost certainly sent it impulsively. I’m not gonna speculate why, although I hope if it was because she was feeling down or lonely somehow that it’s passed.

For me, it was really unwelcome. When I saw it in my inbox and read it, I was flooded with anxiety. My friends abandoned Game of Thrones to help me (bless). I was shaking so hard my teeth were chattering, and that is NOT something that happens regularly or even occasionally anymore. It is, however, something I associate with our relationship.

I could hardly sleep that night because I was thinking of my response. Old me would have written essays about my feelings because I used to avoid processing them on my own, and just dumped them on other people. Kind of like what my ex was doing. Through a lot of therapy I learned how to stop doing this so much and process things on my own.

My response was a little cold and direct, I’ll admit. I wanted clarification on what she *really* wanted from me, and if she had thought through what resolution looked like to her. As this seemed impulsive I was reluctant to dig up the past if I didn’t have to. I tried to give her the chance to explain, if she wanted.

I reached my point of resolution a while ago on my own, and have no intention of being friends or acquaintances again so I would literally only be engaging for her benefit. She seemed anxious that I have a good impression of her, which I can sympathise with. Ironically, I did, about two weeks ago. Most of my friends now had hardly heard of her except the odd funny story. This has temporarily muddled everything.

It’s been a week and no response. I assume she does not have a good answer to my questions. There’s a chance she’s just gone away to think but I doubt it.

I’m angry. And pretty sad, because I considered not replying at all too. I wanted her to consider what had happened with a critical eye, but also give her the chance to be honest about it. She didn’t take it. I shouldn’t be surprised, considering, but it still stings. I can relate to what she’s done here and I’ve done it myself many times in the past, so I guess it’ll fade.

The temptation is to send angry emails back… Even send her this post. But I’ve long since learned that you have to get closure on your own, and that chasing people so they make you feel a certain way never works out.

I’m proud that I didn’t respond the way old me would have done, by falling to my knees in front of her and sending a really long email that attended to all her emotional needs. I read back my journal during our relationship and it hurts my heart to see me gaslighting myself in real time, suppressing every want or desire I had in favour of hers. She didn’t exactly ask me to do that, but it’s still what happened.

It’s sad reading all that back, and I wish I could give past me a hug. In any case, that version is me doesn’t have to worry anymore because we know how to look after ourselves now.

And hopefully she finds closure some other way 🙂

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